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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Honor Pod Inmate, Incarcerated At 16, Has Been Denied Parole 12 Times

Mr. Fitchett, now 54, is the second man from the left
"Life sentences are a hidden death penalty."

In 1979 Robert Davis Fitchett, Jr.,  at 16, was indicted with a homicide charge and two counts of malicious wounding. Only 15 when he committed the crime, he was was tried as an adult and received two life sentences plus 21 years. At the tme he was told he would eventually regain his freedom if he maintained a record of good behavior while behind bars. This was before Virginia passed its "truth in sentencing" laws in 1995 and abolished parole for future inmates.

Rob is deeply remoreseful for the crime he committed and the unimaginable pain he inflicted on the loved ones of his victim, and has been a model prisoner throughout his incarceration. Over the past decade he has been housed in Buckingham Correctional Center's 'Honor Pod' and has worked hard for the Virginia Correctional Enterprise for over 10 years. Under the "old law" he remains eligible for parole.

Mr. Fitchett just received his seventh three-year deferral from the current Virginia Parole Board, which has one of the lowest parole grant rates in the Commonwealth's history. This is equal to adding 21 years to his sentence.

The average cost to Virginia taxpayers for a year of incarceration is around $25,000 a year, increasing with age and greater health care costs for older inmates. Over a lifetime the total cost can be well over $1 million.

The following are Mr. Fitchett's own words:

When you have a victim impact statement protesting your release, you no longer have an unbiased parole board. The Board's job is to take in all information and make the best decision for the offender, society and the victim's family with an unbiased opinion. 

There have been some recent parole grants for violent crimes, whether singular or as a combination of offenses. But if someone writes against your release, the board no longer investigates or attempts to think of giving you a second chance such as they have given others. No matter if you have a better institutional records with decades of being infraction free, have strong family ties or were an immature 16-year old when the crime occurred. Even the U.S. Supreme Court knows children are constitutionally different from adults, where these differences result from children's diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform (U.S. Supreme Court decision 1/25/16).

The board clearly has a biased outlook, and seems only concerned with the reaction of the victim's family. I feel I should have the same rights as those fortunate enough not to have anyone speaking out against their release. 

I just want to be treated fairly and the same as others, which it appears I'm not. The board will spend weeks/months deciding on "normal" cases while I got only 5 days, and two of those were on a Saturday and Sunday.

The Virginia Parole Board should have an oversight committee so they can be held accountable and be required to have a clear rationale on record when it comes to their decision making.


Robert Fitchett, Jr.

Here's a link to contact Governor McAuliffe about criminal justice and public safely concerns:  https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office

The following link is for other posts on parole reform: http://harvyoder.blogspot.com/search?q=parole+reform
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